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9 of the healthiest vegetables

assortment of vegetables next to a paper grocery bag
Vegetables are an essential for anyone's diet. Here are 9 of the most nutritious and healthiest vegetables, including why they are so good for your body.
Newsflash: veggies are good for you! Vegetables are low in calories but packed with fibre, as well as vitamins and minerals. And it is recommended that you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.1 But did you know that some vegetables have a higher nutrient content than others? We take a look at which vegetables are among the healthiest.

1.      Spinach

First up on our list of the most nutritious vegetables is the leafy goodness that is spinach. Well, if it is good enough for Popeye! It might not quite have the same effect on us but it is a source of iron, which is used in red blood cells. Red blood cells help transport oxygen around the body.2 Spinach also contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, manganese, magnesium and vitamin B2. In fact, is there anything that spinach doesn’t have?3

2.      Carrots

Not just a favourite amongst rabbits, this orange-coloured root vegetable is also one of the healthiest vegetables. Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin K1, potassium and antioxidants.4   Carrots contain beta carotene and lutein, antioxidants which can help to protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.5 There are lots of ways to cook carrots including boiling and roasting and they are also one of the best vegetables to eat raw, especially when dipped in hummus!

3.      Broccoli

The next leafy green on our list is broccoli. Broccoli comes in green as well as the less common purple variety, and can be eaten both cooked and raw. This Sunday lunch favourite is packed full of fibre and contains protein, iron, potassium, calcium, selenium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, E and K, and an array of B vitamins including folic acid.1 Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C. Just 78g of cooked broccoli contains more vitamin C than half an orange.7 Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps to protect cells from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals.8

4.      Brussels sprouts

Not just for Christmas, brussels sprouts are healthy enough to be enjoyed all year round. These healthy green vegetables are high in fibre and contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and manganese.9 Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin K, which helps to support the maintenance of normal bones.10

5.      Kale

Kale has become very popular in health circles, thanks to its nutritional properties. This leafy green contains fibre, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K and iron. It is also packed full of antioxidants.

6.      Peas

Forget green giants, these little round peas pack a powerful punch. Peas are high in fibre, which helps to support the digestive system.11

7.      Asparagus

This spring vegetable is one of the best vegetables for health. It is a great source of nutrients including fibre, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.12 Asparagus is particularly high in folate, which is a nutrient that is needed for a normal pregnancy as well as lots of important processes in the body, including the process of cell division.13

8.      Sweet potato

Another vegetable which has grown in popularity in recent years is the sweet potato. You will now see the distinctive orange root vegetable made into fries on menus at hipster restaurants everywhere! Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C and vitamin B6. As well as this, they are a great source of potassium, which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.14

9.      Mushrooms

Mushrooms come in lots of different varieties, from the humble white button mushroom to the velvety oyster mushroom and the spongey morel. They are an excellent substitute for meat in vegetarian and vegan dishes, thanks to their meaty texture. Mushrooms are low in fat and free from cholesterol. They contain fibre, vitamins and minerals too. Mushrooms top the list as a source of a mineral called selenium. Selenium helps to protect the cells from oxidative stress .15 Shop Food & Drink Last updated: 9 February 2021 Sources 1 https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-what-counts/ 2 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach 3 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-spinach 4 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/carrots 5 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-carrots-good-for-your-eyes#carrots-and-eye-health 6 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-broccoli 7 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 8 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ 9 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-brussels-sprouts#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 10 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284765#benefits 11 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19335713/ 12 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/asparagus-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2 13 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3218540/ 14 https://time.com/5498125/are-sweet-potatoes-healthy/ 15 https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/are-mushrooms-good-for-you#Nutritional-benefits-of-eating-mushrooms

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